BIS Event – Ron Miller – Space Artist

Ron Miller gave a presentation at the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) online event on 19th May 2021 (web page). Ron Miller is an internationally acclaimed artist who is focussed on space themes. I have been a fan of his work since the 1990s when I got his book with William K. Hartmann entitled “Grand Tour – Traveller’s Guide to the Solar System” and later books.

“Long Distance Traveller – the Life and Work of Space Artist Ron Miller”

Replay of the event on the BIS YouTube Channel:

During the presentation and discussion Ron described some of his techniques and tools. Having started off with traditional painting techniques, he changed to digital art. He typically takes 3 to 4 days for each image. Much of teh work is done in Photoshop, but for some elements he composes into the scenes he uses a range of methods and tools. GHe uses TerraGen to create some landscapes as 3D models. He also uses 3D models of spacecraft, such as NASA models. He has 3D printed some parts to photograph and include in compositions. Recently for his own interest he went back to using traditional painting in acrylic for some images.

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Shane Pickering – Supercar Cutaway Take Two

Shane Pickering, a graphic artist and private pilot in New Zealand, in the late 1990s worked on schematics and internal details for Supercar compatible with the TV shows and annuals. Details in this blog post (20-Jan-2016). We had a lot of exchanges about plausible internals for Supercar taking into account many references in the TV shows and (mostly) using plausible aerospace concepts with a bit of advanced technology known only to the research community of the time. Remember the late 1950s and early 1960s was the age of the hypersonic X-15 rocket plane, Harrier VTOL Jump Jets and the SR-71 Blackbird!

Now Shane is carrying on the work he started two decades ago by producing a technical “cutaway” based on the detailed schematics.

Supercar Cutaway – Solid Shell Base – Work in Progress – Shane Pickering 2021

Preview of Wing & Fin Framework – Work in Progress – Shane Pickering 2021

Preview of Supercar Cutaway – Nose Cone – Work in Progress – Shane Pickering 2021

Shane’s Modifications to Supercar Model

Shane has modified the details of the Supercar model based on improved resources, and these largely coincide with similar improvements in accuracy compared to the puppet-scale studio model as incorporated by Mick Imrie in his “Take Two” Supercar 3D model as described in this blog post (23-Feb-2021).

  • Nosecone enlarged and intake fins straightened and skinnier (I haven’t reduced the width of the front intake as that is fairly major and would need some major “redrawing”.
  • Nosecone spike corrected for a closer match to Mick’s model – spike is straight not tapered as per my notes (Mick corrected me there).
  • White/silver upper panels lengthened and reshaped towards the front, front lights enlarged, more curvature added, rotated and moved forward.
  • All of the chrome trim changed to gold and dash trims either side of the Clear-Vu made the same length.
  • Windscreen rubber seal straightened over top of the Clear-Vu and more rounded running off to the side to connect to the front canopy frame.
  • Right-hand corner of the Clear-Vu rounded off a bit and the shape altered based on frame grabs.
  • Thin grey line added onto the top FlexiGlass to explain the “seam” – those little canopy supports (added to the rear frame) can be explained as part of the seal mechanism (this is sitting on a separate layer so it can be removed if you prefer).
  • Interior and rear seat inserts changed to similar dark grey; (I now know the rest of the interior incl. the bask seats are actually blue – I experimented with that and frankly it looked awful (what were they thinking)??? As it was in B/W, I guess no-one would notice. 🙂
  • For the sake of consistency and accuracy, I’ve reshaped the back seats and removed half the “buttons”, again based on frame grabs. I’ve curved the white front seat strips a little to give the illusion of them having more shaped padding rather than flat), again based on the frame grabs.
  • Not too sure about adding the exposed piping/tubing visible in some interior shots (between the front and back seats on the sides) – I can show that as part of the cutaway for a bit more interest (I can see they lifted a lot of that straight out of old fighter jets of the period). Ugh – hide it behind some panels.
  • Left front hull contour slightly “straightened” from the side intakes forward, but I haven’t altered it heading rearward. Instead, I’ve reshaped and flared out the lower part of the side intake where it connects to the hull. The lower step has been slightly altered but the upper step and heat extractor vanes are unchanged.
  • Stretched the line of the wings a little where they go into the hull to create the illusion they’re a little higher and thinned down the “hole” they slide into, also to make it look as they’re on the upper curvature of the hull and also a tighter fit; I haven’t repositioned the wings but just added a little more onto the rear of the wings.
  • Wing pods completely redrawn to more closely match Mick’s new model; they’re shorter with flattened ends and the spike is a closer match.
  • Four rear jets have been slightly reshaped (more curve on the top).
  • The left tail fin strake thickened a little near the rear cockpit frame to give it a more uniform shape than what I drew previously.
  • Second fuel filler added to right hand side and redrawn the left as domed rather than the octagonal shape I had earlier.
  • Trim across the top of the front seat back widened.
  • Now I haven’t touched the canopy/frame (for good reason); Mick and I concluded that was quite a bit off in the original but would require a major redraw at my end (i.e. its longer and shorter towards the rear frame).

Overall, about 70% of this rendering has been altered compared to the original, and much more carefully drawn. Overall, I think it’s a big improvement and a more accurate representation over the original.

Supercar Fuselage Side Logo

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Blue Origin – First Seat

Blue Origin ( is to auction the first seat on a crewed flight to space on the New Shepherd rocket and capsule planned tor 20th July 2021 with the proceeds of the auction being donated to the Club for the Future ( charity to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space. The flight is a ballistic trajectory similar to that flown by Alan Shepherd, the first American into space 60 years ago.

Note: There are 29 A4 pages of Terms and Conditions, privacy notice and other information on the multi-step and US$10,000 deposit process to raise your bid limit to be competitive.

Bidding Status at 20-May-2021 – Highest Bid at $2.8m

Winning Bid

The final winning bid was for US$28m.

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Earth Day- Vangelis

Earth Day – 22nd April 2021 – Space Rocks – Vangelis

I have been a fan of Vangelis since hearing his track “Alpha” (from Albedo 0.39) on the collection of music loved by Carl Segan when he was on BBC Radio’s “Desert Island Discs” and used by him on his TV Series “Cosmos”. Vangelis has been a soundtrack to future sounds in films like Blade Runner, and in composing pieces for space missions like NASA’s Mars Odyssey (Mythodea) and ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander.

Vangelis VEVO Channel on YouTube

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Trying to make sense of Black Rock Laboratory

The fictional base in the Nevada desert for the team in Gerry Anderson’s Supercar TV series is called Black Rock Laboratory. For 3D modellers it is a nightmare as many of the sets used in the TV series are separate filmed elements and do not sit well together or fit sensibly into the external envelope for the lab. The lab exterior only appeared as a drawing in series one.


This was replaced by a miniature model built by Derek Meddings in series two. The series two model added an extra concrete reinforced blockhouse on one end, and it might be that Derek did this to house the control room which protrudes beyond the roll up garage door as seen from the inside of the hanger.


Mick Imrie built a 3D model of the core Supercar hanger part of the lab interior to try to make sense of this… and Austin Tate built a simple exterior model to fit this in. The lab is arranged in 5 segments: two contain living accommodation, then two over the Supercar hanger floor area with roof door overhead, and then a final segment over the control room. There is a block of smaller rooms along the front of the lab and a separate smaller building with the radar dish on top.

Images of the Interior Looking Towards the Control Room

Images of the Control Room Position and Roll Up Garage Doors

Some TV images do allow (with a bit of imagination) for an interpretation that the “internal” roll up garage door leads to an area that is still within the lab space and is not directly to the outside. And that the outside door is different to the inside one…

Unfortunately external plants show in the image from the outside viewpoint, as confirmed by a wider shot in the Runaway Train episode.

Assumptions for Modelling of Black Rock Laboratory

  1. The Supercar hanger area is very well shown in the TV series and if at all possible its visual appearance and layout ought to be preserved.
  2. That means that the Control Room is within the floorplan of the main laboratory rather than being housed in the blockhouse added for season two.
  3. That also necessitates a double garage door arrangement.
  4. The door to Beaker’s Laboratory appears to lead directly outside unless an extended lab space of approx. 1.7m single storey area is added behind the lab.

Trying to Make Sense of This

The sets used for filming were often separate or rolled into position depending on the camera angle. So, of course there are a number of problems with the Black Rock Lab layout as used in our models to date…

  1. From an inside view of the lab, the roll up slatted “garage” doors are flush with the front of the control room, whereas on the exterior they are situated on the end wall.
  2. If the control room is set where shown in the TV stills, then the interior part of it cannot sit back into the blockhouse, which would have made some sense as a protected location.
  3. Dr. Beaker’s lab door is alongside the high voltage equipment area, but that would lead directly outside the lab. The “Laboratory” door would have to lead to a corridor width passage behind it and then access to the right to a room alongside the control room for this to make sense.
  4. Position of the elevator must be in corner somewhere to the left of the AVGAS hose door, but it does not show in TV stills showing the control room wall. Perhaps it could be there but hidden by the “internal” roll up garage door when that was closed.
  5. The elevator shown in “Tracking of Masterspy” and “Talisman of Sargon” shows an indicator for 4 levels whereas the lab is a 2 storey building over a basement area. Masterspy also appears to come DOWN from Level 3 which he refers to as the “gallery” when he steals into the Lab.
  6. After the “Rescue” episode Jimmy Gibson is shown in a bedroom that looks out through the double doors under the gallery to the Supercar hanger floor area, whereas in other episodes a corridor is behind those double doors.

Revised Black Rock Laboratory Plan

Firstly lets change our current 3D model to more closely resemble tge season two model by repositioning the blockhouse more centrally on the end wall and making its floor plan square, and widen the block of bedrooms or offices at the front of the lab a little to allow space for a corridor. And show a possible area where the basement sits (in red). Some adjustment to the radar/communications block upper structure and the upper windows in our original 3D model building also needs to be made.

The main externally visible change is the addition of approx. 1.7m of extra space for Dr. Beaker’s Laboratory at the back of the building.

Seeking to Explain the Control Room Placement and “Garage” Roll Up Doors

We have to accept there are multiple (non-exclusive) possibilities here:

  1. The TV stills show the control room front flush with an internal garage door, and fairly close to the nose of Supercar in the hanger. This would imply that there are two sets of garage roll up doors separated by one unit of the 5 unit laboratory. That would be enough space to park a pickup truck, and tyre marks are shown in outside views going into that space.
  2. The blockhouse addition was probably meant (by Derek Meddings in season two) to house the control room interior, so the control room is really set back one whole lab unit. There is then just a single garage door.
  3. The blockhouse should not be there at all and was a continuity mistake!
  4. The blockhouse was a later addition to house Dr. Beaker Experiments and to provide a playroom for Mitch!

I am going for the moment with (1) and (4)!

Supercar Annuals – More on the Position of the Blockhouse

In the Supercar Annuals, EVERY image of Black Rock Lab that shows the blockhouse has it positioned to the extreme right hand edge of the end wall, not in the middle as in the Derek Medding’s studio model. But the images also add an extra “segment” to the lab and also extra bedrooms along the block of rooms at the front.

Interesting, MOST interesting… if it was in that position it could be that it directly is alongside Dr. Beaker’s lab in the back corner of BRL.. and there could be the experiment observation hatchway through to it from the lab end wall? But I am sticking with the Derek Medding’s model position for the blockhouse as centred on the end wall.

Seeking to Explain the Position of Dr. Beaker’s Laboratory

This is a tricky one. The door as it sits alongside the High Voltage zone would appear to lead directly outside. There are two possibilities perhaps:

  1. The door leads to an external room. Unfortunately the series two model seen from the back does not show this clearly, though many of the images of the back side of Black Rock laboratory are in deep shadow!.
  2. The door is misplaced and actually stands inwards a little (corridor width) and then the Laboratory itself opens to the right off that entry space and is placed alongside the control room.

After consulting with Mick Imrie, I am going with (1)!

There is a TV screen shot of the laboratory door partially open where it seems that there is a narrow corridor snd wall immediately behind the door, rather than the main laboratory space opening out immediately behind that.

Seeking to Explain the Room behind the Double Doors under the Gallery

The double doors might open onto a corridor that runs to the side rooms and in some way to the kitchen/lounge areas. A further set of double doors aligned with the hanger bay ones would allow Jimmy after his rescue to see through when both sets are opened.

There is likely a corridor behind the double sliding doors across which another set of double doors gives access to a room that may be a guest bedroom and/or infirmary.

Jimmy being in the “bedroom” that looks out to the hanger floor in the first Rescue episode might be explained by that being an infirmary or guest bedroom and not Jimmy’s allocated bedroom after he joins the team! We see a TV monitor in the room on which Mike shows Jimmy Supercar in the nearby hanger before opening the double doors to show him the actual craft.

The rooms alongside the lab in the single storey may all be bedrooms as the lights all come on in all four rooms one at a time when the team is disturbed one night (episode 70-B-Lo). Popkiss’s room light is already on first, so his bedroom is at the left of the block of bedrooms.

Seeking to Explain the Elevator Levels

Is this a plausible explanation of the 4 levels shown on the elevator indicators?

  • Level 1 – basement (partial floorspace of lab only) where safe is. Assume its an area where AVGAS tank is under the AVGAS door, boiler room, mechanical workshop and storage.
  • Level 2 – hanger floor level
  • Level 3 – mezzanine level within garage area to access gantry
  • Level 4 – engineering position to locate lift a metre or two above highest normal level for elevator repairs

In the episode “Tracking of Masterspy” Masterspy (dastardly man that he is, and due to careless BRL team security) had snuck in through the outer garage doors and had already taken the lift to the “gantry” level (level 3) at that end of the lab (Masterspy refers to it as the “gallery”) to spy on the team from behind the (closed at the time) inner garage roll up doors to wait for the plans in the briefcase to be brought over by Jimmy before he re-enters the elevator to descend to the hanger floor “ground” level (level 2) as Jimmy approaches it!

Seeking to Explain the Position and Use of the AVGAS “Door”

The red AVGAS panel in the corner of the laboratory hanger floor has on it the SAVGAS fuelling hose and valves. The panel looks like a door, but with no handle. It does not match up with any external door in the lab, so it must just be a panel attached to the wall.

Seeking to Explain the Upper Storey Windows Slats

The external appearance of the window slats appear narrower than those on interior hanger bay views.

To reconcile these, the outside appearance could be designed to offer sun protection to the interior by using a outer beam that has a tapered shape which is wider on the outside and is narrower at the inner side to leave an opening there between beams that is wide enough to match the larger internal window glass panel.

Speculation on the “Garage” Area

Assuming that the lab has two roll up doors, and inner one and the external one, we can speculate on what is in that space… especially as TV episode camera angles don’t show its upper parts.

  • The space between the roll up doors provides enough space to garage a pickup truck. This is necessary as we don’t see the team’s truck parked outside in any TV episode.
  • The clearance available allows Supercar to be pushed out on roller skates with wings retracted, though Supercar’s wings are also removable to make it narrower for such manoeuvres if necessary.
  • The elevator shaft is positioned just inside the inner door. Hence the reason it is not seen in camera angles from the Supercar hanger floor.
  • There is likely a heavy lifting hoist and pulley mounted on a track on the ceiling of the garage area. This is used to load or unload heavy equipment from the pickup truck.
  • There is likely a floor lift that can lower or lift large items to or from the basement.
  • There is a garage gantry that can bridge between the elevator level 3 position and a doorway that leads to storerooms that sit above the control room and adjacent areas. This gantry is often not visible in scenes that show the garage area as it retracts telescopically and hinges up to fit against the elevator shaft when not in use… allowing full headroom clearance out through the garage when necessary. Note that Masterspy refers to this garage gantry as the “gallery” when he sneaks into the lab via the garage and elevator.

Speculation on the Tanks and Pipework at Back of Lab

At the back of the season two model there is a storage tank spaced well away from the main body of the lab, connected by pipework in a girder arrangement to the lab at the level of the building eaves. This could be AVGAS fuel, but it comes in high up, rather than near the inner lab door that has the AVGAS hose. Heating fuel would likely come in at a lower level or feed a boiler in the basement. Could this tank and pipework be related to air conditioning and/or fire protection?

Speculation on the Basement

The basement is referred to as “downstairs” from the Supercar hanger level and there is a safe down there. Some ideas for that level besides the safe could include an AVGAS storage tank under the AVGAS hose door, boiler room, mechanical workshop with heavy machinery tools and storage.

Speculation on the Pickup Truck

The truck is probably meant to look like a 1960 US vehicle. Mick Imrie thought that the small model shown on an exterior shot of Black Rock lab may be a Land Rover.

For colour, Ford Pickup truck colours from around 1960, especially early 1960s pastel colours, may be appropriate as its MEANT to be a US (Nevada) pickup. Land Rovers tend to be sludgy colours and often blue or green.

Maybe something like the Ford Tidewater Aqua (Ford 1960), Ford Waterfall Blue (1956) or Land Rover Marine Blue (1958-1971) could be the colour.

Speculation on the “Communications Block”

The separate building with the radar on the roof probably houses communications and computer equipment related to the radar, radio, telemetry and high bandwidth Clear-Vu links. Computers would be old style 1960s mainframes and tape drives. Power generation units for the whole laboratory and cooling units would also be needed for such equipment. A storage tank is located under the colonnade at the side of the building, which may house fuel for power generators.

Some Experiments with the 3D Black Rock Lab Model in OpenSim

The following images show Interior Rollup Garage Door closed and Interior Rollup Garage Door open with Elevator Position and Gantry in its retracted and folded up position and when unfolded and telescopically extended…

Following images show the area of the basement (terrain removed) and Dr. Beaker’s Lab Door access to his Laboratory which partially occupies the space next to the Control Room and a short extension outside (approx 1.7m extra depth) the main hanger wall line (with windows similar to the front block rooms)…

The Lab exterior therefore might look something like this (note the upper windows need better modelling to be similar to the Season two model)…

Visit Black Rock on OSGrid (with a free virtual world avatar) at hop://

FAB98 Graham Bleathman Black Rock Lab Cutaway

Graham Bleathman produced one of his wonderful watercolour cutaways of Black Rock Lab in Fanderson’s FAB98 (July 2021). Not surprisingly we had a good exchange of information and ideas, along with input from Mick Imrie, during its preparation…

My own revisions to this to change a few details to fit with the notes in this blog post is shown below…

Posted in 3D, Supercar | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Moon Dialogs – International Collaboration for Lunar Bases

A seminar in Moon Dialogs Peaceful Moon Salon on “International Collaboration for Lunar Bases” was help in Zoom on Monday, March 29, 2021 3:00 PM (BST).

A Google Document is used to capture comments and resources shared during the event…

Contribution to Relevant Initiatives, Reports, Events

ESA and other missions to explore the possibility of using lava tubes as a moon base…

Vimeo Video Recording of Event

Report from the Event

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BBC Academy – Trust in News

Trust in News Conference: The View from the Frontline Fighting Disinformation
Online event – 24th March 2021 –

Hosted by Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent, speaking to representatives of the social media platforms about their part in turning the tide on disinformation.

Questions can be asked on Twitter or using the hashtag #TIN21 …


BBC – Beyond Fake News Resources

  • Misinformation refers to false or out-of-context information that is presented as fact regardless of an intent to deceive.
  • Disinformation is a type of misinformation that is intentionally false and intended to deceive or mislead.

Project Origin – Protecting Trusted Media: involving BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, The New York Times, and Microsoft has been working to define an end-to-end process for the publishing, distribution and presentation of provenance enhanced media. This tamper proof indication can be adapted for audio, video, images and text-based digital media.

Content Authenticity Initiative: is building systems to provide provenance for digital media, giving creators tools to express objective reality and empowering consumers to evaluate whether what they are seeing is trustworthy.

EBU Publications: Report: Fast Forward: Public Service Journalism in the Viral Age.

Reuters Fact Check

AFP Fact Check

Eric Horvitz, Chief Scientific Officer, Microsoft… “I don’t want to be in a world where I can’t trust any sources anywhere anymore”.

Trusted News Initiative (TNI): Jessica Cecil, BBC Trusted News Initiative Director.

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Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.13

Firestorm 6.4.13 + P373R VR Mod: This build includes P373R’s VR Mod 6.3.3 changes merged into Firestorm 6.4.13 release branch. It is created using “GitHub Actions” (GHA) thanks to humbletim… see

The user instructions are identical to Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.12 which is described at

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dearMoon Crew Candidate

Images from

Fly with Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) who aims to be the first civilian to fly around the moon on
@SpaceX and has reserved all the seats on the craft. A selection process is underway to select those who will accompany him.

This mission will head to the Moon aboard Starship and Super Heavy Rocket, the next-generation reusable launch vehicle developed by SpaceX. It is a supersized rocket and spacecraft designed for transportation of people and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Step 2: Initial Screening by 21st March 2021

From this step the terms and Conditions do not allow further communication about the selection process unless approved by the dearMoon mission organisers.

The Applicant may… publicly announce … only the fact that the Applicant has applied for the Selection and the result of the Selection, but the Applicant may not disclose… the remaining process of the Selection without the prior consent of SPT (SPACETODAY INC.)….

dearMoon Resources in the Virtual World

Prototype facility for social collaboration, interaction, training and education started on the OpenSimulator-based OSGrid dearMoon region and the nearby Space City region…


  • SpaceX Starship by MartianDays, Creative Commons Attribution
  • Moon by AirStudios, Creative Commons Attribution

Flight to the ISS 2021

Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2021 as a preparatory mission for his Moon flight. He has asked for suggestions for 100 things to do while at the ISS on his 12 day stay. I contributed one…

From the ISS Cupola check off items you can see from a pre-prepared checklist of man made objects said to be visible to the naked eye from space.

I hope you have time to just look at the Earth from space and what better viewpoint than the ISS cupola. This “task” may make the experience more fun and provide some feedback to those on Earth as to what a space farer can actually see from large to smaller man-made objects. The check list of items could itself be something you seek to gather from your social media followers prior to your flight and provide the results afterwards. Bon voyage!

Update: 1-Sep-2021

@dearMoon: “Here’s an update on the selection process for all dearMoon applicant… Candidates who will be going to the next round have now all completed a medical check-up. To those who have not gone that far, we thank you for applying and we hope for your continued support.🚀 ”

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Edinburgh Futures Conversations – Health

The Future of Health – 2 March 2021 – the first event in the Edinburgh Futures Conversations series involved experts from around the world sharing their perspectives of the Covid-19 pandemic and explored how to change and reshape public health systems to transform outcomes. #EdinburghFuturesConversations

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health organization also presented a recorded video to give his inputs to the meeting..

Closing Session

“Meeting our neighbours’ needs, meets our own needs”.
Sign the UN #VaccineEquality declaration here.

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Mick Imrie – Supercar Take Two

Mick Imrie created a detailed Supercar 3D model in Cinema4D back in 1998-1999 and this has been used as the basis for many ports to other 3D modelling tools, game platforms, flight and space simulators and virtual worlds platforms since then. See

Mick has now begun the creation of a new Supercar model taking on board experience gained. As previously, the reference point is the puppet-scale studio model. [There also was a mid-sized model and a smaller “flight” model details of which differed from the puppet-scale model.]

Mick is posting about the new model on the EagleTransporter British SciFi web site.

Fan Produced Model

Supercar was created by A.P. Film Studios in association with ITC (now ITC Studios). Supercar 3D Model by Mick Imrie with technical assistance from Austin Tate. Original Supercar designed by Reg Hill of A.P. Films. This is fan produced material to promote the shows of Gerry Anderson and provided for your enjoyment, and should not be used for any commercial purpose. Mick aims to make the Supercar models available to others.

Model Improvements

The new model accounts for some of the following inputs:

  1. Availability of higher quality visual reference material published over the years and higher definition TV screen captures from the TV series. Mick has been able to use these to provide corelated reference images to better inform the modelling shapes.
  2. The main hull shape has been refined using the detailed screen captures and normalising them. This led to the shape changing in ways consistent with Phil Rae’s 1990 revision of his Supercar blueprints. Wing position, nose shape and front light pod size and position also altered. Retro jet length was shortened.[Phil Rae produced a Supercar blueprint for a centrespread in Fanderson’s SIG no. 3 in Autumn 1981 and revised it in 1983 for a set of A3 Gerry Anderson vehicle blueprints. In a personal communication to Austin Tate on 18th August 1990 he offered further revisions as an amalgamation of the three studio models (Puppet scale, Bill James’s 3ft. version and the smaller “flight” model.
  3. Improved accuracy of the wing slot on the fuselage.
  4. Improved modelling shape of the side cooling vanes and the red fairings above and below them which slope rather than sit horizontally.
  5. Improved understanding of the colour and shininess of some parts and trim on the Supercar from improved colour reference material. E.g. the puppet-scale model hull piping is pale brass rather than chrome.
  6. Improvements to the texturing of the model to allow for simpler use on other platforms.
  7. Detailed research by Mick to identify original parts and instruments used in the construction of the puppet-scale model. He is documenting this material on a new web site to help other modellers. See ‘deconGA’ (deconstructing Gerry Anderson).
  8. Improvements to the Supercar dashboard using screen grabs of the human hand scale dashboard. However, this dashboard often had replacement instruments and switches to accommodate the story lines and cannot be reconciled to a single consistent model.
  9. Design to allow for a simpler texture based dashboard, as well as a detailed 3D modelled version to support different delivery platforms.
  10. Significant reductions in polygon count for the hull, fuselage piping and other complex curved elements of the design.
  11. Use of curve based modelling (NURBs) where useful but ability to export as polygons for those platforms needing this.
  12. Canopy structure, size of holes in rear support improved and added small block on rear support to support the canopy top.
  13. Cockpit interior details for the interior sides, front bench seat, rear seats and pipework in the rear corners was made using better reference images.
  14. Compatibility with Supercar Schematics Details (PDF) where feasible.
  15. An “add-on pack” for accessories such as Clear-Vu mounted gun and fairing, magnetic grabs, nose drill attachment, canopy mounted searchlight, etc. Possibly also in including the lab blast shield, Dr. Beaker’s lab console and remote console.

Initial Plans as at 18-Feb-2021

Initial Model as at 23-Feb-2021

Model and Initial Texturing as at 1-Mar-2021

Model as at 11-Mar-2021

Model as at 24-Mar-2021

Fin Remodelling as at 27-Mar-2021

Model as at 1-Apr-2021 – No Fooling

Canopy Structure

Mick has put quite a bit of work into getting the canopy structure to better reflect the Supercar puppet-scale studio model. This includes adding the small canopy top piece support block on the rear framework, and making the holes in that part more accurate.

Cockpit Interior

Details of the cockpit interior are to be improved. The front bench seat piping, trim on the top of the back (based on “Hidem Banding”) and the seat base shaping and upholstery buttons are all to be improved.

Dashboard Details and Instruments

Mick found that many of the instruments used appear to come from the cockpit of the Gloster Meteor NF12.

My own notes on the dash and the instruments that appear is in this diagram.

Supercar Dash – Work in Progress – Font Swiss921BT – 20-May-2021 – Mick Imrie

Supercar Dash – Work in Progress – 10-Jun-2021 – Mick Imrie

Model Complexity

The new Supercar model is designed to be less complex than the previous 1998/1999 version which had a high polygon complexity (measured in vertices and triangles). The 1998/1999 model complexity was approximately (see this blog post for initial mesh upload experiments):

Triangles: 135,000-165,000

The new 2021 model has complexity approximately:

Triangles: TBD

Supercar Colours and Fonts

Mick Imrie made these notes back in 1999/2000 for the original 3D model…

    The font used for the Cinema 4D Supercar model was a TrueType font supplied with Corel Draw called SWISS911 XCm BT (free download). This was selected primarily on the basis of the ‘S’ shape. The logo is obviously all in capitals, the ‘S’ is 118 point size and the rest of the characters are 78 point.

    On the subject of colours, Austin and I spent some time trying to get the colours as good as we could given the vagaries of colour photography. What we came up with are as follows (all given as RGB values):

         Red bodywork:           255,0,0
         Light blue:             204,255,255
         Yellow:                 255,255,0
         Off-white bodywork:     254,250,230

Piping noted as likely a light brass colour on 3-Mar-2021. Perhaps “Gold Tone” Brass such as in this example [Local Copy of Image][RGB: 236,236,186].

Shane Pickering has more closely studied the font, letter shape (the “A” is rounded at the top) and shape of the lines at each side of the logo. The following logo is traced off a close-up of the studio model and normalised (original and Photoshop .psd version here).

Shane Pickering has also been studying the Supercar colours as part of his work on a detailed technical cutaway for Supercar. He has been assisted by a friend who is a classic car restorer. For the “off-white bodywork” colour using reference colour photos, such as the Suter’s Store Windows Display, he has suggested we “aim for a middle range light grey with perhaps a little brown in it”. A light grey with a hint of beige perhaps from the “Palomino” colour range used on General Motors’ Cadillacs and Pontiacs in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

I am exploring the 1960 General Motors Pontiac Palomino Beige with RGB: 236,236,230 which seems to look a bit like the colour in some of the scans of the Supercar LP cover image. I also tried RGB: 230,230,224 and RGB: 224,224,218 but maybe they are a bit too dark.

Posted in 3D, Supercar | Tagged | 2 Comments

NASA Perseverance Mars Rover Landing

On 18th February 2021 the NASA Perseverance Mars Rover landed on Mars..

This was my setup for watching the mission with NASA TV Live and a real time simulation of the landing in NASA Eyes…

Along with participation in the British Interplanetary Society Mars Rover Landing Party in Zoom…

The Rover is the size of a small car…

Real Time Landing Simulation

First Image from Mars

Congratulations NASA and JPL

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Importing Mesh to Second Life and OpenSim

This is a page of resources related to creating mesh models suitable for upload and use in Second Life and OpenSim.

Beq Janus Advice

Beq Janus, who improved the mesh uploader now in use in Second Life/OpenSim viewers, and hence understands the limits, offered this advice…

  • Mesh limits more correctly should be interpreted as applying to each mesh element, not the whole model.
  • It is each sub-mesh in a model that has a 64K vertex limit because as you might surmise there is a 16bit index involved.
  • Every material is split into a separate mesh because it will enter the renderer differently depending on its nature (alpha blended, bump mapped, etc).
  • If a hard-surface model approaches the limits you need to go back to the drawing board… it is not a good model for any gaming platform.
  • Nurb models are certainly not allowed.
  • The models need to be triangulated too, not quads, you can let the uploader do that for you but frankly I would never leave a job like that to be done automatically.
  • You will need to take your curve based models and convert them to mesh. Again, even if you did have the option to convert on import the viewer would have to decide on the sampling frequency and you’d lose control of how it appears.

Collected Hints

  1. Any 3D modelling software will work, as long as it can output models in COLLADA (.dae) format. Note: Second Life uses COLLADA 1.4.1. (see Second Life Wiki – Mesh Background Information
  2. A “model” can have many separate “mesh” parts in it.
  3. The maximum mesh asset size after compression is 8MB, roughly equivalent to a 256MB raw COLLADA file. An entire region can support up to 128MB of distinct mesh assets after compression, not including attachments.
  4. A single convex hull is limited to 256 triangles.
  5. Maximum number of vertices is limited to 65,536.
  6. Scale limit is set to 64 meters.
  7. Take care to create low polygon meshes (as few verts as possible).
  8. Use no more than 8 face textures (8 materials assignments) on any mesh. These will import as “faces” in Second Life/OpenSim, which can be individually textured. You need to create a UV mapping for your model and its mesh parts which defines what part of the texture will go on which polygons of each mesh.
  9. Avoid intersecting faces (unless intersections are intended).
  10. Avoid duplicate vertices (unless you want to use the split modifier).
  11. Avoid creating more than 21844 tris per texture face.
  12. Avoid creating extremely small polygons (< 0.1 cm edge length).
  13. Make sure the objects, materials, submaterials and textures in the meshes do not contain any spaces. (so not “Box 001” which will give the “Error: element is invalid”, but “Box001” or “Box_001”).
  14. You can use any of the modelling tools while working on your model, but in the final form it should be saved before export as an Editable Poly.
  15. Before you export your mesh, make sure that it doesn’t have any stray vertices or overlapping edges. These will either cause unexpected visual results in Second Life or worse, the mesh will fail to upload entirely.
  16. For all meshes, make sure that the “Up Axis” is set to “Z-up”. If the axis isn’t set to Z-up, the mesh axis will be flipped on its side and/or rotated in Second Life/OpenSim.
  17. Advice on Levels of Detail (LOD)… note the need for the bounding box to be identical in all models, and all LODs to have same number of textures. See
  18. Textures can be provided for the usual diffuse image, a normal map (Bumpiness) and for specularity (shininess). PNG and TGA formats are allowed. PNG is to be preferred. Stick to x/y dimensions that are a power of 2 as on import textures are reduced to the nearest power of 2.
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Supercar @ 60

This is an extended version of an article which appeared at on 28th January 2021 –
60th Anniversary of the first broadcast of Supercar on TV.

Supercar – The Wonder of the Age for Six Decades!

First Broadcast: 28th January 1961

Gerry Anderson TV was a backdrop to my school years in the early 1960s, a favourite when returning home from school. Having seen the programmes from Twizzle, Torchy and Four Feather Falls.. Kaiya Kalamakooya kala kaiya! … and beyond. But my absolute favourite was always Mike Mercury in Supercar!

Supercar is an experimental multi-purpose vertical take-off and landing craft. As well as its ability to fly, Supercar can travel on and under water, on land with a ground effect cushion from its vertical boosters, and even go into space. It is designed to perform a range of missions including search and rescue. Supercar is based at the Supercar team base in the remotely located Black Rock Laboratory within Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA.

Well… there she is Mike….Supercar! [YouTube Episode 1 (3:25)]

… exclaimed by Professor Popkiss to Mike Mercury as Supercar is finishing a ground test in the first episode still sends tingles through my spine. The tech details were really appealing to my interests in science, engineering and aerospace. All the procedures for the familiar Gerry Anderson “launch sequence” began in Supercar…

Charging port engine, …, 9000, 12000, 15000, interlock on, Fire One

There are lots of superb details. I like the one where Dr. Beaker is examining a Supercar engines test and commenting on the crazing of the ceramic material of the blast shield. Reg Hill did a fine job of designing Supercar and giving it exciting capabilities on land, under the sea, in the air and even into space.

The sound effects for Supercar startup and flight added much to the atmosphere and Barry Gray’s music added a lot to all the Gerry Anderson TV series.. and Supercar has a very rich repertoire of themes and incidental music. The “Mike Mercury March” (aka “Mike’s Theme”) played as Supercar races to the scene of another rescue is wonderful.

While still at school I was so keen that I arranged a petition and got thousands of signatures from locals to send to ITV and AP Films to ask them to produce more episodes and show Supercar more on TV.

Having seen adverts in TV Comic, I was an early member of the Supercar Club which had a tie up with National Benzole “Super National” petrol and produced a flexi-disc with a Supercar story along with the Supercar theme and more Barry Gray music. I still smile when I remember my dad pulling into a National station to fill up, and as we drove away he accelerated fast and shouted out “zooooom”. The annuals each year, several Shipton Plastics “Plaston” PVC models (which we floated in our fish pond and tried to film in action in front of a back projection sheet), Budgie diecast Supercars and more merchandise followed. My dad, who had been in the Royal Navy, even got me a captain style peaked cap like Mike Mercury wore which I mounted my Supercar wings on.

It is wonderful that over the years since then we have been able to get the whole 39 episodes of Supercar from Series One and Series Two on DVD and that many new merchandising items and fan produced materials have appeared to keep the contents alive.

TV Comic ran strip stories in colour for many years and promoted the “Supercar Club” offering a golden “wings” badge and pilots licence to members.

When Supercar was still on air in the early 1960s, I was taken by my dad to a TV trade show at Earls Court on London, as he ran a TV retail and repair store. And as we went around I heard a loud announcement that “Anything can happen in the next half hour”! Turning round to the big screen just in time to see the black and white image turn to COLOUR and STINGRAY appear. So there was plenty to look forward to, even though Supercar remained my interest.

A number of scientists and engineers have noted how they were influenced in their career choices and areas of interest from watching early Gerry Anderson programmes. And so it was in my case too. The Black Rock Laboratory team under Professor Popkiss and Doctor Beaker created Supercar (fictionally) using a grant from the US Air Force and their research people. Reality can follow fiction… I have (in real life) received research funding for my Artificial Intelligence work on planning, command and control of spacecraft and in search and rescue applications from the US Air Force Research Laboratory and the US Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) using the very same research mechanism that funded the X-15 rocket plane (and, one imagines, Supercar).

I have been fortunate to be part of the international community who continue to enjoy Gerry Anderson TV and work with some very creative people all round the world who are also very interested in Supercar over the years.

60 years later and Supercar is still in my life via the detailed and accurate 3D models produced 25 years ago with friends and collaborators around the globe and still looking good today as computer graphics have improved. The fan produced resources and computer models created with others internationally has enabled me to create virtual world and virtual reality experiences to continue to enjoy Supercar, to visit the (virtual) Black Rock Laboratory and take Supercar out for a spin in flight simulators and space simulators.

Mick Imrie in the UK in the late 1990s created Supercar and Black Rock Laboratory 3D computer models, originally in Cinema4D and subsequently ported by others in the Gerry Anderson Model Makers Alliance (GA-MMA) to Studio 3D Max, Lightwave, etc. See Supercar 3D Model – Mick Imrie and Austin Tate – 1998

Shane Pickering, a graphic artist and private pilot in New Zealand, in the late 1990s worked on schematics and internal details for Supercar compatible with the TV shows and annuals. See Supercar Schematics – Shane Pickering and Austin Tate – 1999.

Brian Douglas, a Microsoft Flight Simulator enthusiast in the UK, worked with me in 2003 to improve the visual appearance and flight dynamics for the earlier versions of Supercar for Flight Simulator I had created. Iain Murray and I worked to improve my earlier Black Rock Laboratory scenery for Flight Simulator. See Supercar for Flight Simulator – 1996-2003.

Kez Wilson at Misc!Mayhem in Texas created the Supercar Comic published in 2003, working with script writer Michael Wolff, and I was happy to help with its production using our 3D models used to get accurate outlines for rotascoping of some image panels. I met up with Kez and Graydon Gould, the voice of Mike Mercury, at the Fanderson Century 21 celebration event in 2002. Kez and I created a Supercar Club 2000 to give new resources to fellow fans. See Supercar Comic – Kez Wilson and Michael Wolff – 2001-2003.

Playing Mantis in the USA produced the Johnny Lighting miniature diecast Supercar models originally in 2001 with colouring reflecting “The Little Golden Book” drawn images. Working with their designer Alan Pletcher I was able to give a little input to improve the later versions for colour and details to better reflect Supercar as seen on TV. I was fortunate to get deliveries of each new variant and limited edition that came out over the following years.

I have also had fun interactions with Martin Woodhouse (who along with his brother Hugh wrote the stories for Supercar series one), Dirk Maggs and some of the good folks at Fanderson.

The fan produced resources and computer models created with others internationally has enabled me to create virtual world and virtual reality experiences to continue to enjoy Supercar, to visit the (virtual) Black Rock Laboratory and take Supercar out for a spin in flight simulators and space simulators. See Supercar for Virtual Worlds and Virtual Reality.

Roof Doors Open!


More info, computer models and images:

Supercar at 60 in OpenSimulator

Supercar 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Treasury Box

Availability March 2021 – Anderson Entertainment – Supercar 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Treasury Box (alternative URL: Limited to 300 units worldwide. Reversable DVD cover art by Chris Thompson (who also did the Pilot’s Licence Replica artwork) and new artwork by Lee Sullivan and Tim Keable. The replica Supercar Licence is individually numbered (my set was 60 277). Note the spacing of “Made Expressly for THE SUPER CAR CLUB” on the backing card for the Supercar Wings badge. As confirmed by Jamie Anderson, this is a deliberate nod to the original backing card from the maker… J.R. GAUNT & SON LTD (Ribbon Makers).

Supercar 60th Anniversary Blu-ray Special Edition Box Set

Supercar has been remastered in High Definition from original 35mm film elements and released in August 2021 on Blu-ray along with a paperback book, new comic, pilot’s licence and golden wings badge in a special 60th Anniversary Box Set.

Update: 25-Nov-2021: Colour Clip for Episode Pirate Plunder

A colourized clip of Supercar for the Network on Air evening of Gerry Anderson’s “You’ve Never Seen These”…

Supercar and Fireball XL5 in Colour! | You’ve Never Seen These | Supercolourisation

Posted in Gerry Anderson, Supercar | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Watch the World – Starry Night

Robbie Dingo (aka Rob Wright) produced the “Watch the World” machinima in Second Life in 2007 depicting a build of the Vincent Van Gogh “Starry Night” painting…

More information via

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Second Life 2001 Lavender Lake Balloon Festival

Lavender Lake Air Balloon Festival for the month of January 2021 explore four regions floating through the sky in your personal hot air balloon. You can also rez a boat and sail, or jump in the water and explore marine life the whole year. See Second Life Destination Guide.

Teleport via:

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Century Wings SR-71 Blackbird

Century Wings produces a range of high quality diecast aeroplane models… one being the 1/72nd scale Lockheed Martin SR-71 “Blackbird”. I have the following article:

SR-71 Blackbird USAF 60-6937 NASA YF-12C 1975
Century Wings Item No. 910720
Production No. 0401 of 1,200 limited edition

Images from Century Wings

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Diva Canto – OpenSim Tutorials

Diva Canto has created a number of YouTube videos (originally in live session on twitch) to document the steps to create an OpenSim grid (version on Linux Ubuntu…

OpenSimulator: How to set up a multi-simulator grid (Part 1) [2hr. 20 mins.]

OpenSimulator: How to set up a multi-simulator grid (Part 2) [1hr. 2 mins.]

OpenSimulator: How to set up Wifi on a grid [57 mins]

More details and advice for educators using OpenSim in classes can be found in this New World Notes blog post (11-Feb-2021).

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Second Life – Firestorm Holiday Party 2020

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Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.12

Firestorm VR Mod was released on 30th March 2022 and created using “GitHub Actions” (GHA) thanks to @humbletim. The user instructions are identical to Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.12 as described below.

Firestorm VR Mod is a version of the popular Firestorm Viewer for Second Life and OpenSimulator with modifications to provide VR capabilities for VR Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) via SteamVR. Firestorm VR Mod is now available from (Assets)

For Firestorm VR Mod community support use the Discord Discussion Channel:
P373R-WORKSHOP by p373r_kappler [Invite]

Table of Contents
Usage Black Edges Black Display SteamVR Popup
Default View Settings FPS Advice Fn Keys
Xbox 3D SpaceNav Source VRLand Test

Firestorm includes support for EEP (the Environmental Enhancement Project), support for the Chrome Embedded Framework Live Video Streaming, and various improvements for OpenSim support.

Peter Kappler maintains “P373R VR Mod” source code modifications to allow the Firestorm Viewer to work with VR headsets at – go there to download his latest viewer add on modification source code and for his usage information, advice on trouble shooting, etc.

@humbletim has created an automated scripted build system initiated by @thoys using GitHub Actions (GHA) which merges Peter Kappler’s VR Mod code additions into stock Firestorm and which can autobuild a release executable version. See

Download the release installer from the “Assets” list at the bottom of the entry for the latest version available at Releases.


VR Mode instructions are available via prompts in the viewer or via information on In short…

  • Press CTRL+TAB to load or unload the SteamVR driver. Do this each time you want to enter VR mode after starting up.
  • Press TAB key to enable and disable VR mode.
  • Press F5 to open the settings menu, you should see a text menu in the middle of the screen. The settings menu works only when VR mode is enabled.
  • Press F6 to increase the selected value. Press F7 to decrease the selected value.
  • Press F5 again to switch to the next menu entry.
  • By pressing F5 on the last menu entry the menu will close and save the settings in a config file which is located in
    and which can be edited directly. Pressing TAB for VR mode reloads the config file.
  • Hold F3 to see some debug info (example here).
  • Press F4 to disable and enable HMD’s direction changes. It is better to disable the HMD’s direction interface when editing and flying with the camera. This may be subject to change in future versions.
  • In the camera floater two buttons has been added to offset the HMD’s base rotation.
  • Moving the mouse to the corners or the sides will shift the screen to this direction so menus or buttons can be accessed more easily.

For issues on some specific headsets you might wish to try the Firestorm VR Mod Discord Channel: P373R-WORKSHOP by p373r_kappler [Invite]. Peter Kappler also offers the following advice…

  1. Firestorm VR Mod works best while sitting and using mouse and keyboard.
  2. WindowsMixedReality users may need to press windows key + Y to unlock the mouse when the HMD is worn.
  3. If your VR hardware cannot maintain constant 90 FPS you could try enabling motion reprojection in your HMD. In WindowsMixedReality it can be done by uncommenting “motionReprojectionMode” : “auto”, in the config file located at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\MixedRealityVRDriver\resources\settings\default.vrsettings”. This will make the HMD interpolate between frames and create a smoother experience. Vive and Oculus should have similar functionalities which can be accessed from SteamVR settings.For Vive it is called Motion Smoothing.

Black Edges or Strips in HMD Display

Firestorm VR Mod shifts the display in VR mode to an edge if the mouse or pointer is placed towards an edge or corner of the viewer window. This is to allow easier access to menus, user interface buttons and HUDs. It can be confusing though if you enter VR mode and find that part of the view is black. It is usually because the mouse is placed towards a corner or edge. Just move the mouse back to the centre of the screen and the full VR view should appear.

All Black HMD Display

This was an issue in earlier versions and is mostly resolved now… but it can still occur with some headsets. In case you encounter issues with a black HMD display… Peter Kappler suggests the following:

  • Create a program-specific profile for the viewer in your graphic card settings and enable FXAA.
  • Second Life only supports FXAA. Other types of Anti-aliasing can be disabled.

SteamVR Reset/Quit Screen Shows in HMD

When you switch to VR mode (after activating VR with Ctrl+TAB and using TAB), you may see a “Next Up… Firestorm” message or a SteamVR popup screen to “Reset the View” and “Quit SteamVR”. This has been observed to occur on the first run of a newly installed viewer. It can usually be dismissed with your controller if that is active, but if not the screen may continue to show the popup in VR mode in the HMD. Try another round of ctrl+TAB and TAB or if that does not work try stopping and restarting the viewer to clear this. These glitches may be more to do with legacy OpenVR + the latest SteamVR updates rather than Firestorm or VR Mod code changes.

Reset Default View in Firestorm Viewer

If your camera viewpoint appears to be wrong… type ESC or Shift + ESC a few times. That should reset your camera view. You could also try CTRL + 9, which does the same thing.

Settings and Setup

Firestorm VR Mod installs into its own folder and uses its own user Settings directory so that the VR Mod viewer can be installed alongside the standard Firestorm viewer. Note that if you want to import existing Firestorm accounts/settings you have to manually copy them over between AppData/Roaming/Firestorm_x64 and AppData/Roaming/FirestormVR_x64 folders.

As usual, Ctrl+TAB initially sets up SteamVR (and HMD support as needed), TAB is used to toggle VR mode on or off, F5 lets you select and step through the various VR HMD or user specific settings for IPD, texture shift to register the left and right eye images, and focal distance to change depth perception, etc. F6/F7 are used to increment and decrement each setting selection.

Peter Kappler suggested the following process to establish suitable settings for your HMD:

  1. Set IPD to 0 (zero)
  2. Then adjust Texture Shift until image is sharp and focused
  3. Then adjust IPD which separates your cameras to left and right to get a good 3D effect

If you see a lot of hover tips showing under the mouse it could be that the debug setting “ShowHoverTips” is set to TRUE (the default) which may show something constantly under the mouse even for inert unscripted objects. You can turn that off via Debug Settings or via Preferences > User Interface > 3D World > Show Hover Tips. Via that same preferences panel, you might alternatively prefer to lengthen the delay before hover tips are activated.

In VR Mode it may be useful to show local nearby chat in “bubbles” over each avatar’s head. This can be done via Preferences > Chat.

Advice on Frame Rate

You do need to ensure you have a good frame rate to have a comfortable VR experience. The Firestorm VR Mod Viewer will not work well if the Second Life/OpenSim region you visit cannot normally be displayed in 2D with a decent frame rate. In VR mode you can assume you will get 50% or less of the frame rate that shows on the 2D normal screen. At low frame rates bad flickering or texture tearing will occur in VR mode. My suggestion is to look at the frame rate (in Firestorm it is displayed in the upper right hand corner of the viewer) and to adjust the graphics settings (especially draw distance, shadows and quality sliders) until you have around 100fps (and definitely more than 50fps) and then try VR.

To improve frame rate (FPS) you might opt to set shadows to “None”, Water reflections to “None: Opaque” and use a reasonably low draw distance appropriate to the scene. Also close viewer UI windows and tools and detach any HUDs you are not actively using.

Firestorm 6.5.3 and later includes an “Improve Graphics Speed” performance tool and facilities to autotune the FPS which may be helpful. See advice on FPS improvement and the new “Performance Floater” and “FPS Autotune” capabilities in Beq Janus’s Blog Post (21-Mar-2022).

Peter Kappler also suggested: Particles… a fireplace is going to eat 20 to 30 fps! So turn them off for VR.

In some situations the rendering of Linden Water, the water surface and its effects, can significantly reduce frame rates. In an environment that makes sense, such as a meeting room, disabling Linden Water can boost frame rates. Do that via Advanced (Ctrl+Alt+D) > Rendering Types > Water (or keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Alt+7).

Tips from David Rowe for using the CtrlAltStudio VR Viewer (which is no longer maintained) may also be relevant:

  1. To improve your frame rate, reduce your draw distance and/or tweak other display settings such as advanced lighting model, shadows, FOV, pixel density, etc.
  2. Make sure you don’t have Preferences > Graphics > Rendering > Limit Framerate enabled.
  3. To display avatar chat above avatars use Preferences > Chat > Visuals > Show chat in bubbles above avatars.
  4. With floating text you may want to adjust the distance the floating text fades at so that distant text is not so annoying in VR mode: Preferences > User Interface > 3D World > Floating text fade distance.

Function Keys and Gestures

If you have issues with some of the Function keys (F5 or other Firestorm VR Mod keys) not working… look to see if the F keys involved are mapped to active “Gestures”. You can find a list of the gestures you currently have active and the keys associated with them using the “Gestures” toolbar button… or the Comm -> Gestures menu item (Ctrl+G shortcut).

Xbox One Controller

An Xbox One controller as used with the Oculus Rift (or an Xbox 360 controller) can be enabled, as usual, in Firestorm via Preferences -> Move & View -> Movement -> Joystick Configuration -> Enable Joystick.

You will probably find the controls are under or over sensitive, or some buttons and triggers don’t do what you expect. See this blog post and the image here (click for a larger version) for some suggestions as to how to amend the settings…

You might want to enter “-1” rather than axis “5” as an indication that axis is not mapped. With the setup suggested the “A” button toggles between the normal avatar view and “FlyCam” mode allowing you to move the camera separately to the avatar.

3D SpaceNavigator or SpaceMouse

3DSpaceNavigatorAs with all versions of Firestorm, the viewer supports other forms of “joystick”. One is the 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator (aka SpaceMouse) which is a “3D mouse” supporting both avatar motion and by clicking the left hand button the separate “FlyCam” camera control.

My recommendation is to install the SpaceNavigator just by plugging it into Windows and receiving default Windows drivers for the device. I do not install any special SpaceNavigator drivers as suggested on the Second Life Wiki, some of which are incompatible with Second Life viewers.

Firestorm VR Mod Source

This version of Firestorm VR Mod is based on the Firestorm source code at Commit r63477:5b44308aee43 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020 21:32:05). Firestorm source is available at Look under “Commits” and select the branch for Firestorm_6.4.12 (link here).

With Firestorm VR Mod Peter Kappler uses a coding approach which injects VR capabilities into the Firestorm Viewer to make the mod easier to maintain in future and for others to repeat or adapt. The source is available from his web page at [Local Copy].

Impressively, the source is written in a way that it requires only some editing in the llviewerdisplay.cpp and adding 2 files to the project. All changes are marked with #####P373R##### comments. Peter also included the openvr header and lib files you will need in the rar. For information about the rest of the files you will need, read how to compile Firestorm at

Note that the VR Mod source remains stable since version 6.3.3 with no changes are needed for insertion into Firestorm 6.4.12.

The GitHub Actions (GHA) source by @HumbleTim used to combine Firestorm source and Peter Kappler’s P373R VR Mod addons and build it using Visual Studio 2019 is available via

VRLand – Test Area

VRLand on OSGrid is a metrics area for performance testing and to establish virtual field of view in your headset.


More detail at:

Ai-Austin-with-Oculus-DK2-800x640You can also pick up a VR Headset attachment for your avatar in OpenSim on the OSGrid VRLand area. Or in Second Life pick up the VR HMD on the Second Life Marketplace. The 3D models of the Oculus Rift were provided for free use by William Burke (MannyLectro) and imported to OpenSim by Michael Cerquoni (Nebadon Izumi) and Second Life by Ai Austin.

Posted in OpenSim, Second Life, VR | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

SpaceX Starship SN8 Test

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020 – Raptor Abort at T-1.3sec

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 – Go

Go to 1hr. 48 mins. into video for launch.

Richard Angle’s Timelapse of Launch and “Landing”

Image from Teslarti and @RDAnglePhoto

Try Starship Yourself – with X-Plane: Starship

From Laminar Research for IPad and iPhone

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Second Life – Firestorm Gateway SciFi Portal

The Firestorm Gateway in Second Life has developed a SciFi Portal. The portal provides roleplay explorers with a SciFi environment to explore and interact with:

  • Starship bridge, engineering and other locations
  • Shuttle flights
  • Supply area to get free SciFi uniforms and equipment
  • SciFi roleplay areas
  • and more…

Details can be found at:

Some locations that may be useful are at:

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Scenegate – OpenSim Viewer – Resources

Introductory articles on the SceneGate viewer in its simpler beginner mode and its extended more advanced modes can be found in this blog post [SceneGate OpenSim viewer with beginner and extended modes. 16-Feb-2020]

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OpenSimulator Community Conference 2020 – OSCC20

The OpenSimulator Community Conference 2020 (OSCC20) was held on 5th-6th December 2020 on the OpenSimulator Community Conference grid. This is the 8th virtual annual conference for the OpenSim Community which has run annually since 2013. More details at

Opening Event


Shopping Zone – Ruth2 v4 and Roth2 v2 Open Source Mesh Avatars

Organizers – Many Thanks


VR – using Firestorm VR Mod

OpenSim Commits 2019-2020 – Gource Visualisation

[OpenSim code development from 2008 to 2017… Youtube]

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Grid Hopping

Firestorm (15-Nov-2020) is now at Release Candidate stage and undergoing final QA testing. There are improvements to the handling of OpenSimulator “hop” addresses, especially to ensure that the current grid is inserted into Hypergrid addresses rather than always (incorrectly) using the original login grid.

This is an issue that has been outstanding for some time in virtual world viewers that support access to OpenSim. See, for example, Firestorm JIRA FIRE-10549. My own test page for hops has been tracking progress on this for over 7 years and is at

To show you how far this has moved things forward in the latest Firestorm viewer… here are tests starting with a local login avatar (e.g. on AiLand) and a login avatar on OSGrid (a well used open grid) and then using the following hop addresses in the address bar. It includes hops to OpenSim software based on various versions including (now over 5 years old code),, and dev (the latest in development version) grids, and even some grids with “Modified” code. Of course I deliberately avoided grids I know will fail (see later)… but note one of the hops is for OSGrid which separates the GatekeeperURI and LoginURI and does assume the default :80 without including it in the address. PROGRESS

Start via your own local avatar login on a grid on any recent, properly configures Grid and region. E.g., for me that is an Ailand avatar login on AiLand…


Start via local OSGrid avatar login at, e.g., Vue-Port region…


Also note that due to a separate OpenSim/OSGrid issue, repeat returns to some grids need TWO teleport tries to work. First reports “You appear to be already logged in. Try again”. Second always works. See

Problematic or Failing Grids/Regions

Grids that separate their LoginURI (e.g. and GatekeeperURI (e.g. are still problematic – and it may be that the Simulator Features OpenSim Extras GridURL is incorrectly set via the grid’s configuration. GridURL is set from the Robust GatekeeperURI overridden by the region’s config-include/GridCommon.ini GatekeeperURI.


OSGrid appears to work in hops and it is another example of a grid that separates its LoginURI (e.g. and GateKeeperURI (e.g. but in its region config-include/GridCommon.ini it adds aliases to the GateKeeperURI to its LoginURI. This may indicate that the viewer is not yet properly picking up the GridURL/GatkeeperURI and using it for all Hypergrid teleports.

Some DreamGrid-based grids seem to have some issue and also fail… e.g., I cannot hop to one of my own experimental grids (not running all the time):


Some regions on OSGrid (e.g. Lani) will ALWAYS give “The region you tried to teleport to doesn’t exist anymore” message, which I am exploring with the region owner. OSGrid Lani region is not reporting its GridURL in SimulatorFeatures SimulatorExtrtas. It appears to be on OpenSim code from 2015.



Fails with “The region you tried to teleport to doesn’t exist anymore”

x-grid-info and x-grid-location-info


Enabling Extra logging Useful to Diagnosing Hop Issues

Edit the logcontrol.xml file in the Firestorm install folder… on Windows for the 64bit Firestorm release that is for example C:\Program Files\FirestormOS-Releasex64\app_settings. Go to the bottom and see a line with “import” in it. COPY that line TWICE leaving those there now in place and change the extra lines to GridManager (no space) and SLURL.

You can then explore the way in which the viewer creates each hop or “SLURL” by searching for “#SLURL#” lines in the Firstorm.log files created for each run of the viewer which is put in a location such as C:\Users\yourname\AppData\Roaming\Firestorm_x64\logs.

You can also explore what information a Grid/Region is giving back to the viewer when teleports occur. This is communicated on a call by the viewer of “setSimulatorFeatures” (look for that string in the Firestorm.log file) and returned in XML format by the destination “root” or “main” region and each “child” region within the viewer draw distance range. This contains OpenSimulator specific parameters in an “OpenSimulatorExtras” section.

Temporary Mapping of Hypergrid Destination Region to Local Map

Hypergrid destination regions are temporarily mapped to the source grid local map at any value of X and Y < 32. This range is reserved so large regions can fit. Region corner is parked at y = 0.

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Blender Avatar Rigging – Simple Guide

Update 17-Apr-2021: Ada Radius has improved the armatures and documentation and has removed the sample armatures in RuthAndRuth/Reference/Ada Radius that are referred to below. Look instead to use SLAvatar.blend in Ada Radius’s GitHub RuthAndRoth References area. The readme gives the details.

Previously avatar_skeletonV3.blend replaced avatar_skeleton_with_custombonesettings.blend, and had two armatures in the .blend file… using the avatar_skeleton.xml armature for rigging to export as Collada for Second Life and OpenSim.

These notes are a reminder of the process to use Blender to take the Ruth2 v4 mesh avatar, add an “armature” for rigging and go through the process of exporting Collada (.dae) and importing to Second Life/OpenSim. It follows a very helpful tutorial on 4th November 2020 by Ada Radius and Kayaker Magic on Discovery Grid.

Gather Resources

A place to start might be this GitHub Ruth2 Wiki page on… Clothing Creator Guide … and much more technical detail is in this Wiki page on… Blender and Rigging.

  1. Blender 2.83 or later (using 2.90.1)
  2. Ruth2/Mesh/Ruth2_v4/Ruth2v4Dev.blend (GitHub/Ruth2)
  3. Reference/Ada Radius/avatar_skeleton_with_custombonesettings.blend (GitHub Reference)
  4. Guidance notes at Reference/Ada Radius/ (GitHub Reference)

Simple Process Guide

Open Blender with a new project, remove default cube.

Check if Edit > Lock Object Modes is ticked tick and if so turn if off. Save as defaults for future via File -> Defaults -> Save Startup File.

Add Ruth2 v4 mesh parts dev kit via File > Append Ruth2v4Dev.blend and select the “Object” mesh part you want to work with.

In Outliner, if present Delete Light and Camera.

In Outliner, if you have a mesh part named “headMesh”, it is just the Second Life/OpenSim classic avatar head shape for comparison purposes and not part of Ruth2 v4. Delete that too.

Rotate mesh 90 degrees on Z axis to face right in front orthographic view (as armature already is as you will see later when you append that).

Use Object > Apply > All Transforms to ensure all subparts of rotated outer container/mesh are transformed.

Add armature via File > Append avatar_skeleton_with_custombonesettings.blend and select “Object” avatar_skeleton.xml. When using “Append” in Blender always bring in the “Object” which will pull in any related items needed, i.e. to avoid confusion, you should not try to only bring in the separate “Armature” part in this case.

Select avatar_skeleton.xml and choose “Edit Mode”. Select > All, Armature > Bone Roll > Clear Roll.

Return to “Object Mode” and in outliner, select mesh first and then avatar_skeleton.xml. The armature must be the last thing selected. Then use Object > Parent (Ctrl/P) to get Parenting options. Set to “Armature Deform”. Parent should then be shown as avatar_skeleton.xml.

Now carefully check all the mesh properties as described in the Ada Radius guidance notes.

In the sample mesh part I was checking the Ruth2v4 (head, body and hands, no feet) had the required single Armature Modifier, but also a “DataTransfer” Modifier to Ruth2v4FeetFlat. “DataTransfer” and “Weld” may be able to be left in as according to Ada Radius… “those are Modifiers that do apply well on export from Blender and import inworld. Not perfectly, but well”. So I left that in. Ada adds…

The Data Transfer Modifier has several uses. In this case I use it for separate objects that we want perceived as a single object inworld. With the settings I used, it matches the face corner normals to the target we point it to. It works fairly well, depending on inworld lighting and how well the textures match. If you see a modifier called “Weld” it’s the same thing

Export to Collada

Select the mesh part you wish to export… note its the mesh part which is now parented to the armature… i.e. do NOT select the parent armature.

File > Export > Collada.

Under the “Main” tab tick the “Selection Only” box.

Via cog settings icon, use Operator Presets > SL+OpenSim Rigged (which sets nearly all settings needed, but check against guidance notes).

For rigged mesh items (like the Ruth2 avatar mesh parts themselves, or rigged mesh clothing) in the Extra tab you must ALSO tick “Keep Bind Info” (otherwise the mesh in Second Life/OpenSim will look like a spindly deformed alien when imported).

Export Collada.

Import – Mesh Upload to Second Life/OpenSim

Import to OpenSim/SL via the Mesh Uploader as usual. Make sure to use the Second Life only version of the viewer (with Havok Physics) if uploading to Second Life. Make sure to tick “Include Skin Weight” in the Options/Rigging tab if it is not already preselected. But “Include joint positions” should not be ticked.

Avatar Mesh in OpenSim after Texturing for Bakes on Mesh

When the Bento Hand Relax animation normally running in Ruth2 v4 is added to the imported mesh the fingers deform (wrinkly or wonky). This issue is currently under investigation by Ada Radius (as at 5th November 2020).

Update: 24-Feb-2022 by Ada Radius on Discord RuthAndRoth Channel: I was finally able to replicate the “wonky fingers” issue. It has to do with changes in Blender, I think. The problem: Shin Ingen developed Ruth2 with better anatomy than the Second Life/OpenSim inworld avatar, and I think he used one of the Linden Lab Bento downloads – female and male – as his templates. These models do not line up with the inworld armature, which has shorter arms. What we’re all going to have to learn how to do, with any model that doesn’t closely match the inworld mesh and armature, is to edit the armature to fit the mesh in Blender. BinBash for the Bento Buddy Blender addon has a few videos at YouTube that show how to do that. Hands are the usual issues, whether we‘re working with Ruth, Roth, most of the dev kits out there

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AI Planning Conferences

The International Artificial Intelligence Planning and Scheduling (AIPS and ICAPS) Conferences have used a variety of named during their history… now up to 30th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling due to held in nancy, France but due to the Corvid-19 pandemic run as the first virtual event. A list of the international AI Planning Conferences is available at:

This numbering misses out the first event in June 1990 which we can maybe think of as “Conference Zero”…

First International Conference on Expert Planning Systems, Brighton, UK, June 27-29, 1990.

There are also European Conferences on Planning, which had a very broad, beyond Europe, participation… More details at

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jOpenSim – OpenSim with Joomla

A blog post with resources related to jOpenSim, a component which allows the use of the Joomla Content Management System with OpenSimulator.


jOpenSimWorld is an OpenSim grid which uses Joomla and the jOpenSim component to provide its web interface. The Welcome area of jOpenSimWorld uses the OpenVCE virtual collaboration environment and I-Room building contents. A free 4,096sq.m plot is available to new residents on the Canary Islands region.

hop:// Islands/19/236/22

DreamGrid with jOpenSim

jOpenSim is included in Fred Beckhusen’s DreamGrid distribution for OpenSim from version 3.71 (released 27th October 2020)… documentation at

Note on Starting Apache Web Server via DreamGrid

On first and every subsequent startup two DOS boxes appear for OutworldzFiles\Apache\bin\rotatelogs.exe. Fred Beckhusen notes that Apache brings up two black boxes for the “loggers” – one for errors, one for activity which cannot be supressed. If Apache is installed as a service, the DOS log windows go away. This also lets Apache run your web page/blog/wordpress even if your grid is offline.

Also, there are two popups in OutworldzFiles\PHP7\ext\php_curl.dll for procedure entry point “libssh2_scp_recv2”. Fred Beckhusen points out that those error are from the OpenSim maps, which needs PHP curl. PHP will not run curl without loading an obsolete version of OpenSSL.

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Halloween in Second Life 2020

Halloween has arrived on the houseboat on the Bellisseria continent in Second Life (Ai Pad) courtesy of some Halloween decorations, pumpkins and light sets provided by Linden Lab.

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ICAPS 2020

The ICAPS’20 conference, originally planned to be held in Nancy France, is being run virtually and using as a social hub and via that Zoom to access meeting spaces…

HPLAN Workshop – Hierarchical Planning

Organised by Pascal Bercher and his team, it was good to see many old friends, colleagues and new (to me) folks in the even run via Zoom…

The workshop was kicked off with an invited talk by Robert Goldman about SHOP3.

Invited Talk by Leslie Kaebling, MIT

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